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November 19, 2017

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;

but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 

Incense

Incense has been used in sacred worship since time immemorial, not only in Christian and Jewish worship, but in all kinds of Pagan worship as well.  So why is incense so common in worship, and what is it for?

Incense serves two main purposes: To be a sweet-smelling offering to God, and to be symbolic of our prayers ascending into heaven.  Just as the sweet smell of the incense is pleasing to us, so we pray that our sacrifice would be pleasing to God.  And as we offer our prayers to God on high, we see the incense rising from our altar to heaven.  We use incense, a physical, material thing, to show our love to God.  Of course, God doesn’t need incense—He doesn’t need to smell it or see it—but as human beings we use material things to express our spiritual devotion.

As we hear in the Psalms: “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).

The use of incense in Jewish worship began at Mount Sinai when God instructed Moses to build an altar on which to burn incense: “You shall make an altar to burn incense upon…. And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it… a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:1,7,8).

In the Old Testament, God that a new sacrifice and offering would one day come, and as we hear the Lord speak through the Prophet Malachi: “From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering” (Malachi 1:11).  This prophecy is fulfilled in Christ and the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, because it is the pure offering and perfect sacrifice.  Furthermore, this perfect sacrifice of Christ is made present once again on the altar every Mass.  This is why the Mass is also called the perfect sacrifice, for it is a renewal of the one sacrifice of Christ.  That is one reason why we use incense during the Mass, as it is symbolic of this prophecy from Malachi being fulfilled.

Additionally, incense is also mentioned in the book of Revelation.  We read: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full if incense, which are the prayers of the saints….  And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4).

During the Mass, incense can be used to bless the altar, the crucifix, the book of the Gospels, the priest, the people, the bread and wine, and the Body and Blood of Christ.  All of these things are blessed with incense because they are set apart for God.  This is why not only the physical things used at Mass are incensed, but also the priest and people are incense, for through our baptism, we have all been set apart for God.

Thus, when you see incense at Mass, envision the prayers of your heart rising to the throne of God along with the smoke; and when you smell the incense, consider how pleasing the sacrifice of the Mass is to the Father in heaven!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

 November 12, 2017 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 November 12, 2017

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

 

Preparing for Advent

We are still three weeks away from Advent, but I wanted to address this oncoming season beforehand so you have a chance to prepare.  It is a tradition during Advent to have an Advent Wreath, which consists of a small evergreen wreath and four candles.

The first Sunday of Advent we light the first purple candle as a symbol of Hope that comes from the coming messiah brining salvation.  The second Sunday we light the second purple candle as a symbol of Peace for Christ the Prince of Peace.  The third Sunday we light the rose candle as a symbol of Joy in honor of the shepherds who heard the joyful news about the Christ Child.  And the fourth Sunday we light the final purple candle as a symbol of Love in honor of God’s love for us.  As we read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

The flame of the candles symbolizes Christ, the light of the world, and this light gets brighter as more candles are lit and we come closer to Christmas.  The wreath is in a circle as a symbol of God’s eternity and unity.

If you do not already have an Advent wreath, or need new candles for yours, we are going to put in a bulk order as a parish this Wednesday, November 15th.  To join in this order, please call or stop by the parish office Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of this week.  Here are the options and prices for us to do a group order:

Advent wreath (without candles) $10
Candles (3 purple, 1 rose) $3

Again, if you would like to take advantage of this group purchasing option through the parish, please let us know by Wednesday, November 15th.

Another wonderful family tradition for Advent is an Advent Calendar.  This special calendar has a scripture passage for each day of Advent which anticipates the coming of Christ at Christmas.  This is a wonderful tradition especially for families with younger children.  I loved doing this myself with my family growing up.  We have ordered several Advent Calendars and they will be available to you soon for free!

We will talk more about Advent soon, but I wanted to get you thinking about some great ways to celebrate Advent as a family.  Our world encourages us to jump right from Thanksgiving (or even from Halloween) right into Christmas, but we really need this beautiful season of Advent before Christmas to prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ Child.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

November 5, 2017 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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November 5, 2017

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;

but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Latin and the Liturgy (Part 2)

(Continued from article two weeks ago…)

 

The use of Latin in the liturgy has long been esteemed in the Church, and it shows the universality of the Church.

Additionally, it is common that people should worship in a sacred language.  This has been true about the Jews, who worship in Hebrew, although very few people speak Hebrew.  Even at the time of Jesus, everyone spoke Aramaic or Greek, yet Hebrew was used in worship.

Latin has the power to inspire us to mystery and beauty.  Consider my singing of the Ave Maria after Communion.  Most people don’t know the exact words I am saying (though they may know it is the Hail Mary), but they are inspired by the beauty of the song.  It has the power to lift our minds and hearts to God.  So too, when praying in Latin, we may not know every word we are saying, but we know the parts of the Mass, and know, for example, when we sing “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth” we are singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, because that’s the same time we sing that prayer every Sunday.  There is a certain sense of mystery and awe in using a sacred language.  Just as the Mass itself is set apart from the rest of our busy lives, so Latin is set apart and adds to the wonder and mystery of this great event.

In fact, St. Theresa of Avila, who prayed the breviary in Latin with her community, received a special grace to suddenly understand everything she was praying in Latin.  And she later commented that it did not in fact help her prayer, because she already was raising her mind and heart to God fully in her prayer of the breviary, even though it was in Latin and she didn’t understand everything she prayed.  Rather, her heart was encountering God in love and awe and mystery, not just in known words.

Latin helps form our identity as Catholics.  It reminds us that our faith is over 2000 years old, and that we stand in continuity with countless saints and martyrs that have worshiped together for thousands of years in one common language, Latin.  It reminds us that our faith is not isolated to one local area or one time period in history.  Down through the ages, our Roman Catholic faith has had a constant living tradition bound by one common language.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

The Church has a beautiful liturgical treasury.  We need to rediscover it, learn it, and embrace it.

Hearing Latin during mass should give us strength and give us pride to be Catholic.  It should enliven us and help us remember that we have been “set apart” for God, to be holy.  And it should remind us of the faith we share with all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the entire world.

In conclusion, I do plan to integrate a little more Latin into our IC Masses over time.  To begin with, the homeschool children are learning the Mass parts in Latin and will soon begin singing those for our Friday morning Mass.  In the future, I would love to have our whole parish learn the basic Mass parts in Latin, as Pope Benedict XVI suggested that we teach the faithful to “sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis 62).

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

October 29, 2017 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priesthood Sunday

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, & with all your mind.”

 

Praying for the Dead

November is a special month for remembering and praying for the dead.  We begin the month with two particular feast days: All Saints Day (November 1st), and All Souls Day (November 2nd).

On All Saints Day, we remember the holy men and women who have gone before us in faith.  These are the men and women whom the Church has canonized, or officially recognized as in heaven.  We learn from the example of their lives of faith, and we seek to imitate them.  We also ask for their intercession.  Just as they prayed for their family and friends when they were on this earth, so now in heaven, they continue to pray for all their brother and sisters united in Christ as their prayers ascend to the throne of God.  As Scripture says: “and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Revelation 8:4).

As Catholics, we also have a long tradition on All Souls Day of praying for our loved ones who have gone before us.  When someone dies, we naturally want to say things like “they are in heaven now”.  And while this is our confident hope through Christ, the reality is that most people will likely first go to purgatory.  The Catechism says it this way, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

The Catechism then goes on to encourage prayers for the dead: “ ‘Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sins’ (2 Maccabees 12:46).  From the beginning the Church as honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.  The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC 1032).

On All Souls Day we pray for the souls in Purgatory, especially our loved ones, that through the mercy of our Lord, they may quickly be admitted into the Heavenly Kingdom.

I encourage you during this month of November to be sure to take some time to remember and pray for the dead.  Perhaps even visit the cemetery where your loved ones are buried.  And as we reflect on the reality of death, this gives way to the promise of life.  Because we believe that “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Finally, an All Souls Day envelop is included in your giving packet.  We invite you to include the names of those you would like remembered, and put it in the regular collection.  Envelopes will be placed in front of the altar throughout the month of November as a symbol of our prayers for your loved ones.

Know of my daily prayers for you.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

October 22, 2017 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 22, 2017

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

 

Latin and the Liturgy (Part 1)

Many parishes in the Archdiocese and indeed around the country are rediscovering the many liturgical treasures of our faith. One of these treasures is the use of Latin in the liturgy.  So, why is Latin making a comeback?  Isn’t that something we abandoned after Vatican II?  Actually no.  The idea that Latin was forbidden, or even discouraged during the Mass, is inaccurate.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on the liturgy which initiated the liturgical reforms that followed the Council, said: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites…But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters” (SC 36).

The document goes on to add: “Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (SC 54).

In other words, the Council saw that using a person’s native tongue (eg. English), is certainly beneficial, especially for the readings where the purpose of that part of Mass is not only worship but also learning.

Canon Law also reflects the desire for learning Latin, saying that all seminarians should learn Latin so that they can use it in pastoral ministry (cf. Canon 249).

Even more recently, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, “I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (62).

However, now more than 50 years after the Second Vatican Council, most parishes have no use of Latin at all, and many priests, musicians, and liturgy coordinators are entirely opposed to its use. So why does the Church still encourage Latin at Mass?

Latin is still the official and universal language of the Church. The importance of this is not as easily seen on the local level, but it is very important on the global level.  I have been to Mass in many countries and in many languages, and the wonderful thing about being Catholic is that you always know what is happening at every Mass, even if you don’t understand what is being said.  But furthermore, the wonderful thing about Latin is that it can unite the faithful “from every nation, tribe, people and language” in participation in the same prayers of the Mass (Revelation 7:9).  It has made me very proud to be Catholic as I stand at Mass with the Holy Father in Rome, along with thousands of other people from around the world, and we can all pray the Mass together in our Church’s language of Latin.

(To be continued…)

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

1st Annual Apple Cider Sunday October 1

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Much fun was had by all who attended our 1st Annual Apple Cider Sunday on October 1. While it was raining outside, we were busy pressing inside. We pressed over 1,250 apples and made about 30 gallons of apple cider! Fresh pressed cider was given out to those who wanted a tasting, or take some home. In between the “work” of pressing, we enjoyed a yummy potluck lunch. As we finished pressing the last of our apples, we were entertained by the musical talent of our very own Fr. VanDenBroeke and special guest, Fr. Brandon Theisen.

Enjoy the pictures and we hope you can join us next year!

October 15, 2017 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 15, 2017

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

The Angelus

There are several ways of praying throughout the day.  One of the most traditional ways has been to pray the Angelus.  The name “Angelus”, which means “Angel” or “The Angel”, comes from the first words of this prayer in Latin, “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Maria” – “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.”

The Angelus is traditionally prayed at three times during the day: 6am, noon, and 6pm.  Not only does this encourage our praying throughout the day, but it also helps us begin the day, pause in the middle of the day, and come to the close of the day by meditating on Christ and his mother.

The words of the Angelus reflect one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: The Incarnation—God becoming man.  When saying the words, “And the Word was made flesh”, it is customary to genuflect or bow as a way of humbling ourselves before God who humbled himself before us in his Incarnation.  The words of the prayer are scriptural (cf. Luke 1:26-38, John 1:14), and as we pray, we take up the words of the Angel Gabriel and of Mary herself as our own.  And what a great reminder it is for us to remember Mary’s “Yes” to God, “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.”  As we pray the Angelus, we seek to be humble, obedient, and open to God’s will as Mary was.

This is a beautiful prayer all Catholics should memorize, and I encourage you to try to incorporate it into your day as you are able.

 

V: The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

R: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary…

 

V: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

R: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary…

 

V: And the Word was made flesh.

R: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary…

 

V: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

V: Let us pray,

Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.  Through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

October 8, 2017 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 8, 2017

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Clergy Appreciation Sunday

 

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Our Lady of Fatima

Last week I encouraged everyone to join me in praying the novena leading up to the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearing on October 13th.  Today I want to share details about a wonderful opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence on October 13th.

In order to worthily celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Apparitions of Fatima, by the mandate of Pope Francis, it is granted a Jubilee Year, with the inherent plenary indulgence, from the 27th November 2016 to the 26th November 2017.

The plenary indulgence of the jubilee is granted:

  1. to the faithful who visit the Shrine of Fatima in pilgrimage and devotedly participate in a celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the symbol of faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
  2. to the pious faithful who visit with devotion an image of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly displayed for public veneration in any temple, oratory or adequate place, during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of each month, from May to October 2017), and devotedly participate there in any celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the symbol of faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima;
  3. to the faithful who, due to their age, disease or other serious reason, are impeded of moving, if, repentant of all their sins and having the firm intention of performing, as soon as possible, the three conditions mentioned bellow, in front of a small image of Our Lady of Fatima, spiritually unite in the days of the apparitions to the jubilee celebrations, offering with trust to God all-merciful through Mary their prayers and pains, or the sacrifices of their own lives.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful, truly penitent and animated with charity, must ritually fulfil the following conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.

In order to fulfill the obligations of this indulgence, we will be having some special devotions in honor of Our Lady of Fatima after the 8am Mass on Friday, October 13th.  This will include: Rosary, songs to Mary, adoration, and confessions.  Please join us.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima

Say this prayer every day for 9 consecutive days October 5-13.

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favor that I so earnestly seek of you in this novena… (here mention your request).

I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor and for the good of all people. Amen

Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be (three times each)

October 1, 2017 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 1, 2017

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Amen I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”

Our Lady of Fatima

One hundred years ago this year, Our Lady appeared to three young shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  These apparitions have been approved by the Church as authentic, and we are encouraged to call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

On October 13th, 1917, Mary appeared for the sixth and final time to all three children together.  Thousands of people came to Fatima in anticipation of the predicted apparition.  Shortly after noon, Our Lady appeared to the children.  Her message was similar to previous occasions, asking that we pray the Rosary every day and repent of our sins.

But what happened next was extraordinary.  All those present witnessed the “miracle of the sun”.  Our Lady made the sun burst through the cloudy sky and seem as a soft spinning disk of silver.  The children cried out: “Look at the sun!”  The 70,000 or so spectators looked up and beheld this phenomenon.  There are several eyewitness accounts that were published in newspapers following this event, including pro-government, anti-clerical newspapers.

The message of our Lady of Fatima is as important to us today as it was 100 years ago, for, it is a call to repentance, prayer, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As members of the church of Immaculate Conception, I want to encourage all parishioners to join me in praying a novena leading up to the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition on October 13th.

 

Say this prayer every day for 9 consecutive days October 5-13.

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favor that I so earnestly seek of you in this novena… (here mention your request).

 I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor and for the good of all people. Amen

Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be (three times each)

 

I hope you will join me in calling upon the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima for your family, our parish, our nation, and our world.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

September 24, 2017 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 24, 2017

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

 

Bells at Mass

The ringing of bells at Mass has been a wonderful tradition of the Church for a long time.  Here at Immaculate Conception, we usually ring the tower bells five minutes before Mass, and the Sanctus Bells or Altar Bells during the Consecration.  Here is a short history of the use of bells in Catholic worship.

The beauty and solemnity of bells has a long tradition of being rung in praise of God, as Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praise!”  And again as Psalm 150:5-6 says, “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with the loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Church bells have had widespread use as far back as the 9th century as a way of summoning the faithful to prayer.  Especially in a time when most people did not have a watch, these bells would be very helpful, and would be heard loud and clear anywhere near the church.  Church bells are also rung for special celebrations or events, such as weddings, funerals, feast days, or the time to pray the Angelus.

About the 13th century, what has become known as the Sanctus bells appeared in the Mass.  This name comes from the Latin word “Sanctus” which means “Holy”, and which is written on the wall of our sanctuary around the crucifix: “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth”, meaning, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, which we sing during the Mass.  The Sanctus bell is rung to honor and glorify God, as well as to focus the attention of the faithful on the mystery of faith taking place on the altar, and to inspire us and fill us with joy.  For, through the miracle of transubstantiation, the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Sanctus bell indicates this and invites our adoration.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) mandated that bells should be rung during the Mass.  Today, the ringing of bells during the Mass is not mandated, but still encouraged.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: “A little before the Consecration, if appropriate, a minister rings a small bell as a signal to the faithful. The minister also rings the small bell at each elevation by the Priest, according to local custom.” (#150)

As this indicates, a bell ought to be rung “before the consecration”, more specifically, it is rung at the Epiclesis, which is when the priest holds his hands over the bread and wine, and calls down the Holy Spirit.

The bell is then usually rung three times at the consecration of the Body of Christ, and again three times at the consecration of the Blood of Christ.  This three-part ring is in honor of the Holy Trinity.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke